Solar Thermal - Awesome!

teacher778August 24, 2008

I live in Orange Co, NY and just had three solar thermal panels installed by Patrick Gallagher of Warwick. Pat did an oustanding job. The quality of his work really impressed me and I just love taking "free" hot showers. Before deciding on Patrick I had a heck of a time finding information on the subject. There's just not alot out there. I didn't know anyone that had them so I was a little apprehensive at first but I'm glad I did it. State and Federal tax credits will pick up about half the cost and with the current price of heating oil, I expect about a 5-6 year payoff. As far as I know, that's the quickest payback time for any solar technology. For anyone out there that's considering it, I would highly recommend it, as long as you don't mind saving about $1,000 a year in heating oil costs! If you're in the lower NY area, check out Pat's website and give him a call...

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Congrats on taking the plunge. Yes, a good installer is the key to hapiness. We installed geothermal in our last house and had the same reservations as you but our installer made all the difference. Our size home and heating rates, our payback was 4.5 years. Unfortunetly, we sold the house after 2 yrs, but that's another story.

Anways, can you give more detail on your type of system and your out of pocket cost?

Also, I'd like to check out Pat's website, so please post. Good luck with your new system.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 9:48AM
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I have three 4'x8' panels on the roof on a 43 deg. angle. Pat said that for the best all around efficiency (mostly for the winter months when the sun is lower in the horizon) you'd like the panels to be on an angle that is close to what your latitude is in your area. Our latitude is 41 deg. here in Orange County so he gave me a little extra angle for the winter months. The panels are connected to a 120 gal. tank via copper tubing that runs in a loop from the tank, up to the panels and back down again. A food grade antifreeze (for lack of a better term) is then pumped by an extremely quiet ( I had to ask him when the pump would kick on and he said "it is on!") pump up to the panels where it is heated and returned in a pressurized closed loop. Domestic hot water circulates through the tank, around copper coils that contain the heated solution, and then into your existing hot water tank. A mixing valve is installed to prevent the "free hot water" from scalding you. I've seen the water get to 156 deg. so far and I've only had it a few days. If you get a couple of cloudy days and the temp. in your tank falls below where you'd like it to be (ie. for a shower) the boiler kicks in and does the job. There are sensors installed in the tank and on the panels to give you the temps. and they're displayed on a digital readout. It's so cool, we've been checking them a few times a day. The out of pocket cost for us will be right around $5K. Around here, heating oil runs about $4/gal. so we've figured on a 5-6 year payoff. (the system saves about a tank of oil a year). I can't say enough good things about Pat and the system and I encourage everyone to go for it! Here's the link to the website
I'll try to get some pictures on here tomorrow...

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 10:22PM
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welcome to the club, we have had system 2 years and love it. Nice hot water most of the year except when it's really cloudy/overcast

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 10:59PM
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Do you an URL (web address) for Gallagher's? I've had solar air heating panels since the 1980's - but could be interested in an update/upgrade!.
Don in Rockland,NY

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 12:22AM
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Solar Thermal is great in many places but if you are in a hot climate that requires a lot of AC usage, keep in mind a heat recovery unit on the AC is far more efficient. You are paying to move the heat out of your house anyway, you might as well get some use out of it. HRUs beat the operation of solar hands down in Florida or Texas. Another advantage is the timing of the hot water which is generally used more in the evening for bathing when solar can't replace the hot water used and as a consequence, the back up heat has to turn on to heat the cold makeup water entering the storage tank. In a hot area, the HRU will provide heat at those times also.

A few links.....

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 4:16AM
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We had a new central AC installed in our house last year. I think it's 2.5 tons. Our one-story house is about 1550 square feet, here in central North Carolina. Can anyone tell me what the approximate cost of a HRU would be, and whether it pays for us to consider it? Although we are not like south Florida, our AC runs from around mid-April to mid-September. In the hottest summer months the temp can rise to the high 90s daily for a week or two before easing off to the more civilized high 80s. The over night temp during the warm months drops to 70s.

Our gas boiler is 8 years old and will soon have to be replaced, so I'm looking to consider options. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 7:33PM
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The unit cost is about $350-400, installation cost varies with proximity of water heater to the AC condensing unit. The average handy home owner can cut install cost dramatically by doing the water plumbing and just letting his AC guy hook up the hot gas line and wiring.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 5:04AM
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